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No Portuguese?

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For sentimental reasons I would like to find a Portuguese restaurant for dinner during my visit to SF next month. I tried searching this board, and came up empty.

What gives? No Portuguese restaurants in the whole Bay area, or is it a failure of my searching skills? Will we be obliged to celebrate our anniversary with the Other Iberian cuisine? (And just how do we get to San Mateo, anyway?)

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  1. La Salette in Boyes Hot Springs (Sonoma County) is delicious and friendly and portuguese.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Mark

      Thanks for the tip, Mark. It doesn't seem like we'll be heading up that way this trip. Anybody have a place in town to recommend?

      1. re: Helen

        I can't think of any Portuguese restaurants in the City and County of San Francisco. A handful of Brazilian establishments, maybe. We have few Spanish restaurants either.

        If you want the real deal, you'll need to watch for thumb-tacked posters on community bulletin boards and church newsletters for Portuguese festas. Growing up in Salinas we used to attend crab feeds, liguica and clam dinners, etc. at the local Portuguese hall. One of my friends says the Portuguese community is very active in Half Moon Bay with something going on almost every weekend. Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay has hired a Portuguese chef and will open a themed restaurant, Navio, in January to celebrate the contribution of the Portuguese to boat-building in the area.

        Besides La Salette, the only other place of distinction I can think of is Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero (off Hwy 1 about 40 miles south of SF). The locals pronounce it "do-arts". It's been around for more than 100 years as a local institution and draws customers from miles around. I've not been there, but it's famous for artichoke soup and ollalieberry pie. Allegedly serves Portuguese-style seafood dishes too. The drive down the coast to get there is beautiful if you have decent weather, or take 280 then head west on 92 to connect with 1.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Thanks for the ideas, Melanie. Sounds like we should build in a chow stop on our way to or from Monterey. Do you suppose Duarte's is open for lunch? (Ollalieberries, eh? I'm intrigued.)

          It's curious that there should be no Portuguese restaurants in town, with settlements so near to the big city. You'd think there would be a market for it. ("You've tasted the Port, now try the cuisine!")

          No matter - we can make our anniversary trek to Luzia's (site of first date) when we get back to NYC. Looking forward to many food adventures on our trip.

          1. re: Helen

            Stopping for lunch on the way to Monterey is perfect. I've taken that stretch of Hwy 1 so many times, but it's never been the right time of day, or I'm in a hurry to get to my destination, that I've not stopped in myself. Link below.

            Yes, the settlements are near the City, but at the time they were established in the late 1800's, they were a world away and mostly agriculturally based rather than industrial. Not much recent immigration to maintain the ties with Portugal. While I attended festas as a child, I don't remember hearing Portuguese spoken until I was an adult.

            A couple years ago I attended a trade tasting of Krohn's Ports, which makes a point of distinguishing itself as a Portuguese-owned house rather than British, and was surprised at the number of Portuguese in attendance. Many were from the East Bay and running Italian restaurants.

            Link: http://www.duartestavern.com/

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I love it -- 106-year-old tavern with an internet discount coupon! From looking at their description of the food, I'll be curious to see whether old country ties show up on the table - noticed that they bill themselves as a "great American restaurant." The seafood seems promising, though. Thanks for the link.

              Thanks also for taking the time to fill in the background. A much more enlightening response than I ever expected to get for my routine "need a place for anniversary" query. Now we have a little food-finding adventure to look foward to.

              Wonder if the absence of Portuguese restaurants in town has always been the case, or if there's been a history of short-lived places that taught Portuguese restauranteurs that it's Italian that sells. (There's a title for somebody's next book: "A Long History of Short-Lived Places.")

              1. re: Helen

                I had breakfast at Duarte's about a year ago, homemade linguica with my eggs and if memory serves me right, homemade jam (ollalieberry?) with the toast. It was top notch.

                1. re: Rachel Hope

                  Had a chance to stop at Duarte's for lunch on Wednesday on the say back to SF. I made a point of asking our waitress for a sample of the housemade preserves. the ollalieberry was yummy and a unique taste, but I prefered the strawberry just a little more for a more refined flavor. Lunch was super all round.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I'm glad you enjoyed Duarte's, too. I couldn't resist buying a jar of the ollalieberry preserves as a gift for my mom - she gave a very favorable report.

                    Thanks again for the rec, as well as for your myriad contributions about other places and other topics. One of these days I need to post about the other meals we had during our trip, most of them chosen after research here.

                    1. re: Helen
                      m
                      Melanie Wong

                      Thanks to you and Rachel, I finally made it to Pescadero. Last night when conferencing with my sister and brother over where we'd have dinner, my bro said, "Do-Arts". Nope, sorry too far for a school night, another time.

                      I hope you'll find the time to tell us about your chowhound vacation. The Calif. board could certainly need more boosting for Monterey area eats. I tried to go out while I was in Salinas, but my mom wants to cook for her family when we're at home. Not that I'm complaining . . .

                2. re: Helen
                  m
                  Melanie Wong

                  This may be Portuguese in name only. But at least you can be assured of good food of whatever kind. Maybe you can contact them in advance and explain your situation. In any event, you'll be creating new adventures and memories to keep company with your night at Luzia's.

                  Happy anniversary!

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Thanks! Wherever we end up, I'll post when we get back.

                    1. re: Helen

                      After all the discussion above, we did make it to Duarte's for lunch last Monday, and were glad we did. A perfect stopping place on the way to Monterey. Very low key with a nice local feeling. Good bread. Many fish items on the menu, plus a couple of linguica listings that I guess qualify the place as Portuguese.

                      Enjoyed the cream of artichoke soup as a starter, followed with a tasty (but salty) octopus stew. Never tasted such tender octopus before. (Now that I've seen them snoozing peacefully at the Aquarium, may never eat them again.) My girlfriend had a grilled snapper sandwich that she loved. After all that, who had room for pie? We had to get ours to go. We ate it the next evening, so my impression that the crust was so-so may not be fair. But the ollalieberry filling was great (the apple seemed ordinary.)

                      1. re: Helen

                        Sounds great, Helen. Thanks so much for stopping back with your report. that's where the octopus went! I called and searched all over SF for some fresh or frozen octopus and came up empty-handed last week.

                        One direction or the other, when I go home to Salinas for Christmas, I've gotta stop there for a bowl of artichoke soup.

      2. This is probably not what you have in mind, but I will mention this place anyway. There is a small diner on Pine between Polk and Van Ness called the Grubsteak. The building is actually an old streetcar. The food is diner food with some Portuguese items, like linguica, Portuguese beer, a few Portuguese entrees. It's not exactly fine dining, but the place definitely has a certain character. And they are open until 4AM!

        So if you decide to celebrate your anniversary by going to a tranny bar on Polk St. and want to soak up some of the alcohol with Portuguese diner food, this might be a good option. Otherwise, it is a couple blocks from Bob's Doughnuts, but that's another story!

        3 Replies
          1. re: Ben

            Well, it's not the celebration that first came to mind, but when in Rome...

            And just what is it about Bob's that has Melanie seconding it so emphatically?

            1. re: Helen
              m
              Melanie Wong

              Stick with the raised glazed here. Beats the socks off Krispy Kreme. Old-fashioned are not so good. Other pastries in the window look wonderful too. But I've not tried them as my routine is to buy a glazed donut whenever I'm wandering by to eat as I'm walking.